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Antipsychotic medication and venous thrombosis

  • René Thomassen (a1), Jan P. Vandenbroucke (a1) and Frits R. Rosendaal (a1)

In an autopsy series, 10 out of 27 deaths in which ‘idiopathic’ pulmonary emboli were discerned as the sole cause of death had occurred in psychiatric patients.


To investigate whether antipsychotic medication is a risk factor for venous thrombosis.


A description of the 10 psychiatric patients was obtained from the pulmonary emboli autopsy reports. We carried out a brief historic overview of the literature. We re-analysed data from the Leiden Thrombophilia Study (LETS), a case–control study on patients with venous thrombosis.


In the autopsy reports, five out of 10 psychiatric patients with fatal pulmonary embolism had confirmed use of antipsychotic drugs. After the application of chlorpromazine and its analogues a higher incidence of venous thrombosis in psychiatric patients was described in the German literature between 1953 and 1977. In the re-analysis of the LETS case–control study, four patients used antipsychotic drugs versus none in the control group. Recent epidemiological studies of good methodological quality have confirmed these findings.


Venous thrombosis appears to be associated with the use of antipsychotic drugs in psychiatric patients.

Corresponding author
Jan P. Vandenbroucke, Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 71 5265230; Fax: +31 71 5248122; e-mail:
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Antipsychotic medication and venous thrombosis

  • René Thomassen (a1), Jan P. Vandenbroucke (a1) and Frits R. Rosendaal (a1)
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